For most of us, the music behind a movie, TV show, or video game is something we’re likely only peripherally aware of. For TV, film, and games composer Sean Murray, it’s the main thing. Murray’s musical scores have set the mood for major league video games like Call of Duty: Black Ops, Call of Duty: World at War, and Counterstrike: Global Offensive, as well as TV series like Buffy the Vampire Slayer and God, The Devil, and Bob.
Murray has spent more than two decades cranking out countless hours of music, working largely from his studio in the Hollywood Hills. It’s a brainstorm-inspiring space densely packed full of classic synths, samplers and other fun toys. Central to it all is a Mackie Digital 8-Bus console and a 5.1 surround mix with Mackie HR824 and HR624 studio monitors and an HRS-120 subwoofer.
“I started mixing in 5.1 surround in 1999, and I’ve been using a Mackie surround system since then,” Murray asserts. “I’ve talked to a lot of mix engineers at the various soundstages I work at, and they all tell me the same thing: don’t change a thing. Mackie speakers have always worked for me.”
Recently, Murray upgraded his system to include the new Mackie XR824 monitors. The change, he observes, is definitely noticeable. “What I notice is that I’ve got a greater clarity in the high end. I really feel like I’m getting a bit more of that shimmering area up on top — it just breathes more.”
No matter how good the mix sounds in his studio, working on so many different projects with so many different directors means Murray’s work is always subject to the unpredictability of different playback environments. “The wonderful thing about my Mackie system is that my mixes translate beautifully to every mix environment that I go to,” he confirms. “Whether they’re listening to it on headphones, or computer speakers with no bottom end, or on a huge sound stage, they’re going to hear it the way that I conceived of it and the way that I mixed it.”
“My Mackie 5.1 surround setup has been a crucial part of my sound for the past 17 years,” Murray confirms. “Everything I’ve worked on — every movie, TV show, and video game — has all been mixed on this system. It’s an essential part of my sound.”